Yes, I’m aware that I’ve strayed far afield from this blog’s primary focus, but I was having a very difficult time arranging a second interview with gnome expert Dr. Willem Gelding of Dakota Central University. I finally got news that he’s been home for several weeks recovering from injuries sustained during a gnome hunt in Australia. He’s finally out of the hospital, and has agreed to answer a few more questions.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Hello again, Dr. Gelding. I know you were in Australia tracking the gnomes on that police video you shared with me. My first question must be whether you found the perpetrators of that horrible crime, and also, maybe you can tell us a little about how you came to be injured.
GELDING: Yes, I was riding along with two other officers who answered the call for backup. Sadly, there was little left of the first patrolmen on scene when we arrived, but the gnomes left a fairly clear trail of bloody footprints to follow – at least for about 30 yards. From there, we tracked what we first thought were the hoofprints of a horse. That turned out to be a gnomish unicorn, which, by the way, is not the gentle, dainty creature of the fairytales. That horn is lethal, and their hooves are pointed and wicked sharp. At any rate, their lair was only about two miles away and we thought we had them cornered until the SWAT team actually went in. The place was empty, or seemed to be at first. I made the mistake of picking up one of their cups that was filled with what I thought was elderberry wine. The next thing I knew, an ER nurse was shining a light in my eyes and asking if I knew what day it was. (I didn’t, by the way, not for several days.)
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: That’s frightening! So you think the gnomes smeared some kind of drug or poison on the cups as you and your team were closing in on their hideout? How did they manage to escape with all those cops around?
GELDING: Either they put something on the outside of the cups, or whatever they drank from them causes a really bad reaction if touched by a human. One of the other officers also had to be taken out on a stretcher at the same time I was. He got a heavier dose somehow. Still about halfway down La-La Lane, if you get my drift.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: What happened to the other SWAT officers?
GELDING: I was flat on my back within two minutes of entering, so most of what I know is what I read in the newspapers afterward. Apparently, once the whole team was inside, the Gnomen began popping out from nooks and crannies everywhere. The cops were caught by surprise, and with so little room to maneuver – the ceiling was only 5 feet tall – the gnomes made short work of them. No pun intended. For some reason, the other drugged officer and I were untouched except for a couple of places where we were stepped on by the unicorn. Those pointed hooves are like razors, so we both ended up needing stitches. Once all the police had been disabled, the gnomes vanished into the Outback.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: I couldn’t help noticing that the gnomes in the video were a lot smaller than the one in the video from Argentina that you were tracking last time we talked. Can you explain that?
GELDING: That Argentinian gnome was a mature adult and therefore larger. Adult gnomes always have a bad temperament, but generally speaking, the older the gnome, the less dangerous it is. Unless cornered, an adult gnome is usually content to throw a few rocks. The gnomes I was tracking in Australia were youngsters, and as such, very volatile and dangerous. If you ever see a pack of juvenile gnomes, head the opposite direction as quickly as you can.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Good advice, certainly. Now despite the failure of your mission, all this brings to mind another line of questioning. I received a letter from a reader not long ago, and she claimed she’s being harassed by gnomes at her primary residence. She told me she was going to try setting traps for the gnomes. Without really having any expertise on the subject, I advised against it, but perhaps you could be more specific on the dangers involved with something like that.
GELDING: To my knowledge (which is considerable, I don’t mind saying), no trap yet devised has been effective against gnomes. They’re very, very clever, and those tiny hands are surprisingly strong. What might work instead is trying to placate them, perhaps by leaving some doll clothes on a small stool, along with a note that says something like “PLEASE ACCEPT THESE GIFTS. WE MEAN NO HARM AND JUST WANT TO LIVE IN PEACE.” Otherwise, consider relocating.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: So there’s no hope for people who have a really big problem with gnomes? Most people can’t just pick up and move, so what preventive measures can people take? Is there a way to make your home inhospitable to the Gnomen?
GELDING: As I’ve mentioned before, they like goldfish and banjo music, so unless you’re hoping to befriend them (fat chance!) it’s probably best not to play bluegrass music. Any goldfish you keep will end up on their dinner table, so you might as well just find some other pet. I’m told that they don’t get along well with cats, and have a particular aversion to a breed called the American Bobtail. Just a thought, and you’ll have to make up your mind about which is worse, gnomes or cats. Other than that, there isn’t much you can do. I’ve yet to see a lock they can’t pick, and they seem to thwart just about every security device or system anyone comes up with.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: That really doesn’t sound too hopeful. But if people got so frustrated with their gnome problem that they turned to trapping anyway, what should they use for bait?
GELDING: Goldfish would be the obvious first choice. There’s some indication that they have begun to develop a taste for kimchi, a Korean dish of fermented vegetables. My sources in Southeast Asia swear that the variety made with napa cabbage or radishes seems to drive them wild. I have no first-hand knowledge to back that up, though. Really, trapping just seems to be a dead end. My goal is mainly to encounter them and somehow get them to interact without going all knee-high ninja on me.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Okay, I agree it’s unlikely to succeed. No offense, but even with your expertise and the deep pockets of Dakota Central University, you haven’t successfully trapped a live gnome yet. But in the unlikely event that an ordinary citizen actually succeeded where you have failed, what would be their next step?
GELDING: Call in a napalm strike. And run away – far, far away – very quickly. Forget about returning to whatever’s left of your home. Once you’ve set a trap for them, however ineffective it proves to be, the Gnomen mark you as a sworn enemy and etch your name on the honed blades of their Hellebarde. Your kneecaps and ankles will never be safe again. (I speak from experience, you know, and wear Kevlar-lined trousers at all times.)
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Wow, that sounds like it would be really unpleasant from a chafing standpoint. But I do see your point. Basically, you’d have this little humanoid creature in a steel cage. It’s not like trapping a feral cat … you couldn’t just turn it over to the SPCA and expect them to get rid of it for you! And what if the police got involved? The cops in Australia know better, I’m sure, but here in the U.S., the police probably wouldn’t even acknowledge that you’d captured a gnome. Wouldn’t they probably assume that you’d kidnapped a small person? I bet they’d set the gnome free, then turn around and charge you with kidnapping, right?
GELDING: You’d have to consult an attorney on that. I’m a cryptozoologist.
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Well those are fascinating answers, Dr. Gelding, and I think it gives my readers a good idea of the scope of the problem, and some of the ethical issues involved with gnome-trapping. Let’s look ahead. What’s next on your agenda?
GELDING: Just trying to get back on my feet. These unicorn wounds don’t seem to be healing very quickly. Does this look infected to you?
ROAMIN’ GNOMIALS: Yuck, that’s nasty! I think you better go back to the doctor, doctor! I hear they have some very good nurses at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where they have a Gnome Injuries Ward set up and ready to go. I know that’s a long way from home, but if anyone can save you, perhaps it’s them. Good luck, and if you survive, we certainly look forward to hearing from you again.